Hearing aids and an otoscope placed on an audiologists desk with an audiogram hearing test chart

Determining hearing loss is more technical than it may at first seem. You can probably hear certain things clearly at lower volumes but not others. You might confuse certain letters like “S” or “B”, but hear other letters perfectly fine at any volume. When you figure out how to understand your hearing test it becomes clearer why your hearing is “inconsistent”. That’s because there’s more to hearing than simply turning up the volume.

How do I interpret the results of my audiogram?

Hearing professionals will be able to determine the condition of your hearing by utilizing this type of hearing test. It won’t look as basic as a scale from one to ten. (Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it did!)

Rather, it’s written on a graph, which is why many find it challenging. But you too can interpret a hearing test if you’re aware of what you’re looking at.

Looking at volume on a hearing test

The volume in Decibels is detailed on the left side of the graph (from 0 dB to about 120 dB). This number will identify how loud a sound has to be for you to be capable of hearing it. Higher numbers mean that in order for you to hear it, you will require louder sound.

A loss of volume between 26 dB and 45 dB signifies mild hearing loss. If hearing starts at 45-65 dB then you have moderate hearing loss. If you begin hearing at between 66 and 85 dB then it indicates you have severe hearing loss. If you can’t hear sound until it gets up to 90 dB or more (louder than the volume of a running lawnmower), it means that you have profound hearing loss.

The frequency section of your audiogram

You hear other things besides volume also. You can also hear a range of frequencies or pitches of sound. Different types of sounds, including letters of the alphabet, are distinguished by frequency or pitch.

Frequencies which a human ear can hear, from 125 (lower than a bullfrog) to 8000 (higher than a cricket), are typically listed on the lower section of the chart.

This test will let us ascertain how well you can hear within a range of wavelengths.

So, for example, if you have high-frequency hearing loss, in order for you to hear a high-frequency sound it might have to be at least 60 dB (which is around the volume of an elevated, but not yelling, voice). The graph will plot the volumes that the various frequencies will have to reach before you’re able to hear them.

Is it significant to track both frequency and volume?

Now that you know how to interpret your hearing test, let’s look at what those results may mean for you in the real world. High-frequency hearing loss, which is a very common form of loss would make it more difficult to hear or comprehend:

  • Beeps, dings, and timers
  • Whispers, even if hearing volume is good
  • Birds
  • “F”, “H”, “S”
  • Music
  • Higher pitched voices like women and children tend to have

While someone with high-frequency hearing loss has more difficulty with high-frequency sounds, some frequencies may seem easier to hear than others.

Inside of the inner ear tiny stereocilia (hair-like cells) shake in response to sound waves. You lose the ability to hear in any frequencies which the corresponding hair cells that detect those frequencies have become damaged and died. You will totally lose your ability to hear any frequencies that have lost all of the corresponding hair cells.

This type of hearing loss can make some interactions with loved ones really frustrating. Your family members may think they need to yell at you in order to be heard even though you only have trouble hearing particular frequencies. And higher frequency sounds, like your sister speaking to you, often get drowned out by background noise for individuals with this type of hearing loss.

Hearing solutions can be personalized by a hearing professional by utilizing a hearing test

We will be able to custom program a hearing aid for your specific hearing needs once we’re able to understand which frequencies you’re not able to hear. Modern hearing aids have the ability to recognize precisely what frequencies go into the microphone. It can then raise the volume on that frequency so you’re able to hear it. Or it can change the frequency by using frequency compression to another frequency you can hear. In addition, they can improve your ability to process background noise.

Modern hearing aids are programmed to address your particular hearing needs instead of just turning up the volume on all frequencies, which creates a smoother listening experience.

Make an appointment for a hearing exam right away if you think you may be suffering from hearing loss. We can help.

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The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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